In 1986 Picasso’s The Weeping Woman was stolen from the National Gallery of Victoria by a group calling itself the ‘Australian Cultural Terrorists’. They held the painting to ransom, demanding increased funding for the arts. The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and his Ex is a fictional account of this theft. It’s also the story of good-girl Rafi falling for bad boy Guy. These two threads are linked by Rafi’s new neighbour: single mother Penny, whose ex is embroiled in the theft.
But this is far more than a heist novel crossed with romantic comedy. Rafi’s baby brother died in a drowning accident, and her mother is lost to grief; Penny, meanwhile, has a freshly broken heart and her own baby boy. Like a painting itself, this novel is winsome and delightful on the surface, with layers of complexity and heart beneath. It’s about the things you can lose when you turn your back for a moment, mistakes and how they grow, loss, grief, mental health and superstition. Often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, the narrative skates along in twists and turns, playing with reflections, duplicates and forgeries, always acknowledging the darkness on the flip side of the fun.